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that they must yet account for the use they have made of their advantages, to One who once occupied the rank of one of the lowest of mankind; and the poor are taught not to be ashamed of their condition, nor to deem themselves trampled upon and despised, while they are merely passing through that condition of existence which the Son of God dignified and adorned. All are taught, that the only really important distinctions as mong men are those of virtue, and that every member of the Christian body, in its own station, may yet attain to the highest honours of its nature.
This is the farther system which Christjanity assures us will' hereafter be fully established in that higher kingdom, in which the distinctions will be those only of activity and fidelity, in which he who has well occupied his talents, however little they may have contributed to his
distinction here, will be proportionably rewarded, and from which those will be excluded who have neglected the employment of their earthly talent, however high the distinctions may have been, which it seemed to confer upon them. . In that eternal Kingdom, the representation of the Apostle will at last be fully realized, when the society of “ the just “ made perfect,” will “ be one body in “ Christ, and every one, indeed, mem“ bers one of another.”
The moral consequences of these reAlections are sufficiently obvious. They, first of all, reconcile us to the frame of human society, which, amidst all its disorders, is yet founded on principles of impartiality and benevolence, that to a certain extent meet with their completion. , They shew us farther, that the disorders of the present system of things are not to be remedied by violent means, but that, under the direction of Providence, a divine remedy has already been applied, which accomplishes its end by the gentle methods of moral inducement. They point out, lastly, a higher system, in which all the disorders of time will be corrected, and in which the equal benevolence of Heaven will be displayed in all its glory!
Under the influence of these impressions and hopes, it is left for us to perform our different parts--and I need not say with what activity, what fidelity, and what zeal, it becomes us to perform them! In every condition of life, offices are set before us, in the right discharge of which, not only our individual happiness, but the well-being of society, is involved. To all the endowments with which we may be distinguished, correspondent duties are clearly attached, and the more exalted our situation among men may be, the more unwearied ought to be our activity, and the more extensive our beneficence! In this connected system, no member can pretend that it is either insignificant or above being employed, and all are equally responsible for the manner in which their activity has been directed. I cannot, my brethren, strengthen the force of this representation,--and all I now add, is to pray God, that we may each in our several departments feel it as we ought !
“ O Lord, correct me, but with judgment ;
“ not in thine anger, lest thou bring me “ to nothing."
E ought not to suppose that adverse fortune, or circumstances of danger, are any
indications of the forfeiture of the Divine favour, either with respect to individuals or to nations.
On the contrary, it is evident that a tide of prosperity may
* Preached at Leith, on June 7, 1804, being the day appointed by his Majesty for a General Fast.